Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Economics

Committee Chair(s)

Reza Oladi (Committee Chair), Sherzod Akhundjanov (Committee Co-Chair)


Reza Oladi


Sherzod Akhundjanov


Katarzyna A. Bilicka


James Feigenbaum


Ryan Bosworth


This dissertation explores how Hurricanes Katrina and Rita affected the economy in New Orleans and nearby areas in Louisiana. Using a variety of econometric techniques, my dissertation aims to understand the effects of these storms on employment, wages, and housing prices.

In the first essay, I focus on employment in New Orleans. I find that Katrina led to significant and lasting job losses in nearly every sector, while the construction sector stood as an exception, recovering within just three months. Interestingly, wages increased in most sectors. This suggests that with fewer workers available, those who remained became more valuable, leading to higher wages.

In the next essay, I examine the impact of Hurricane Katrina on nearby areas. I find, surprisingly, that parishes not directly hit by the hurricane saw more people obtaining and maintaining jobs. Furthermore, the unemployment rate in these areas decreased for nearly a decade following the storm. The average weekly wages earned in these areas also increased by 5%. This indicates that the effects of a disaster can spill over to nearby areas in unexpected ways, providing insights into discussions about migration and employment.

In the final essay, I study the impact of the hurricanes Katrina and Rita on housing prices in Louisiana. I discover that smaller rental units experienced a significant 20% increase in prices, while larger units weren't as affected. This finding suggest hurricanes disproportionately impacted low-income families, leading to a surge in demand for smaller housing units and a consequent rise in prices. On the other hand, demand for larger units in wealthier areas, where homes largely remained intact, didn't change significantly. These findings hold important implications for government responses to population displacement caused by climate-related events.

In summary, this dissertation provides valuable insights into the economic impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It deepens our understanding of how these disasters affect jobs, nearby regions, and rental prices. This research contributes to existing knowledge and informs debates about government policies and responses to large-scale natural disasters, particularly in relation to employment and housing.